Remembering Bailey

I was cleaning out some files today and came across a few small pages from a notebook that I immediately recognized.  The pages were dated 3/27/20o9 the day after Bailey, our first Golden Retriever, was put down.   The notes were made after my morning run (wow – I was still running back in “those days”) and recorded my experience during that particular run.

I’m transcribing the notes verbatim here (with a few clarifications in brackets) not as a way to say, “oh poor me – I still miss him so much” (although I do!) but because I know many Golden Kali followers may have lost a beloved pet at some point and probably have their own stories and experiences to share.  In the end what I experienced during this particular run was incredibly cathartic and helped with my grieving process.

By the way the trail I was running on is the trail that would five years later become Kali’s “Creek Trail” that we shared so many great times walking along before moving out of the area.

So here it is….

Went for a run along the golf course – normal path. Went all the ay to the end.  Felt very strong not he way out and for most the the run.  The conditioning is evident.  Should try to expand the distance over time = much of the challenge is mental.

I thought about Bailey throughout much of the run. I sobbed from time to time as I kept “seeing” him on the table [at the vet] getting the injection.  His eyes – I hope he knew as he went down forever that what we did was out of love.

On the way back [way back home on my run] I was in a pretty good zone.  An upbeat song was on the iPod and I was gliding along at a good clip.   I pictured Bailey running freely at full stride like he did from time to time after a cat in the neighborhood.  I saw him in a field of green with blue skies – much like the weather today.  It was like a daytime dream almost – maybe the endorphins (?)  but I was watching, not controlling the vision as you would with a thought. It was more like a dream…

I saw Bailey running, running and then he jumped up into my dad’s arms [my dad had passed away about 15 years before].  Bailey was so happy!  My dad was happy. I said out loud, “you found him! Bailey you found Papa [Papa is what my kids called my dad].  

I started crying and I was so happy. I was so happy for Bailey.  the “dream” started to fade a little but I could still see him and replayed it in my head several times the rest of the way home.  It was a good release and I hope it last and helps how lonely the house felt this morning.

To this day I still miss Bailey.  He was a birthday present for my son when he turned 10 and as the years passed when my son went to College Bailey and I became very close.  He was a great friend and companion at a time that my kids were growing and moving on with their lives.  My kids always came home but Bailey never actually left – he was always with me and remains so to this day.

BaileyDirtDawg2

Bailey in his senior years.  To this day this picture remains the desktop image on my computer.

 

Walking

Since the week we brought Kali home a little over two years ago our walks along the creek trail and neighborhood was a special time for her and I.  Our bonding time.  Our golden  one on one time.  A time to talk about world events, to argue, and to simply appreciate one another’s company.

Since moving to the mountains the routine is different and I miss the walks.  I think Kali does too.

Don’t get me wrong.  We love our new home, the rural surroundings, the mountain air (for me) new smells (for Kali), the wildlife, and the slower pace of life.  But we miss our walks.

It’s not for lack of a trail or roads to walk that has kept us from our ritual.  Up here in the mountains the roads go on forever and sometimes there is nothing except trees and wildlife as far as the eye can see.  And dogs.  Off leash dogs.  Dogs protecting their land and owners.  This makes sense and is normal for a rural area like ours but it’s new ground for us “city folk”.

Back in the big city of Livemore (population 85,000 compared to Tuolumne population 1,780)  we almost never encountered an off leash dog.  So even with Kali’s anxiety with dogs I knew the situation would be under control between myself and the dog’s owner during our frequent encounters along the old creek trail.  In most cases Kali had become quite comfortable and uninterested as we passed other dogs walking as we passed without incident or a woof.

As things began settling down after our move I decided it was time to get back to our daily walks.  Kali and I headed off our property to a road that goes pretty much straight up hill.  OK, that’s good exercise for both of us I thought.  “Let’s go Kali”, and off we went.  When we got to the top of the hill I looked back and there was a big dog (who I had shoo’d off  our property a couple of times and he had run off timidly).   He or she was sitting at the bend watching us from about a city block away.  I watched the dog and he watched us.  Kali sniffed and smelled enjoying herself.  I waited to see if he would follow us. He didn’t.   This big black spotted dog just sat there and watched us as I contemplated what would happen when we headed back and had an encounter.  Would he sniff Kali hello?  Would Kali get anxious and bark or lunge?  Kali and I walked on and the dog sat watching us walk away.

We went farther up another steep road enjoying the scenery looking forward to the walk back home which would be presumably all down hill.  We hadn’t gone very far but for our first exploration it was good enough and we would be able to find our way back home without having to call Holly for a search and rescue.

As we turned a bend there was that dog still sitting and waiting for us.  Kali was oblivious but I was concerned about an encounter where even if the this dog was friendly he might react if Kali barked (which was highly likely given her new surroundings).  But this time when the dog saw Kali walk in his direction he ran off timidly as he done when I shoo’d him from our property.  Kali and I walked on down the hill and within another minute or two I heard barking come from the front of a house set back from the road.  This time the dog ran out towards us.  I kept walking and braced myself for an encounter.  The dog stopped short of the road, barked a few more times, and watched us move along.  I guess he or she had done their job protecting their pack and making sure no intruders stepped onto the property.   It was interesting that Kali was not fazed by the dog’s barking; in fact I don’t think she noticed because she was too interested in all the new smells around her.

So us city folk will have to adjust to the fact that most of the dogs in this area are free to roam on their properties without the oversight of their owners.  In fact Kali does too so what am I worrying about.  While Kali doesn’t wonder our 5 acres alone I have given her the freedom to be off leash when I’m out and about tending to outside household business.  We’re far off the road and Kali tends to stay close to me and around the house which gives me confidence that she is learning her limits and is uninterested in exploring beyond her safe zone.  Our backyard has expanded immensely and Kali has for the most part complied with the limits I’ve set for her and enjoys wondering within my sight and following me around.  So I guess were not much different than the dogs and owners.

I’ve never seen a dog on the main road that turns onto our little road so its seems these dogs know their boundaries, are certainly not strays, and are just used to living in the mountains where they can enjoy more freedom.  And because their dogs I’m sure most if not all are just as loving and friendly as Kali.   Maybe Kali and can bake some biscuits and take them to the “neighborhood” dogs, introduce ourselves, and put dad’s concerns to rest.

 

IMG_3133

That was one steep hill! Hey who’s that dog way back there watching us?

Farewell to the Creek Trail

It was the best of times it was the worst of times.  Wait I’m not Charles Dickens and for Kali and I it was only the best of times.  But in a way it is the tale of two cities, or towns as the case may be…

As it got closer to the day we would move I couldn’t help but think about the all the walks Kali and took along the creek trail that led to the duck pond.  We’d made that walk hundreds of times during the past two years.  And now we were taking our last walk along what had become a very special place to both of us.

We’d walk in 90 degrees and in 30 degrees; cloudy, sunny, and sometimes raining.  Almost every day we were out along the creek trail and knew it like the back of Kali’s paw.  We had long conversations, occasional disagreements, and sometimes we just walked in silence enjoying the sights, smells and each other’s company.  It was and is a relationship that transcends words.  A relationship that is about emotions and security.  A relatiohship that I value as much as even those most precious relationships with family and friends.

Our last walk along the creek trail was the day before the moving trucks arrived at our home in Livemore to take all our possessions to our new home in the mountains.  It was very melancholy.  The walk started out like any other:  Kali pooping as soon as we hit the trail, Kali smelling the same spots along the trail, and then peeing next to her favorite pee bush.   But by the time we reached the duck pond I became melancholy; perhaps even a little sad.  We stood at the pond in silence taking in the sights and sounds. There were so many things to do at home to get ready of the move and I was conflicted.  I didn’t want to leave our special spot but I knew there was way too much to do at home.  We stayed for anther few minutes,  I looked at Kali, gave her a hug and a kiss on the side of her snout and we headed back home for the last time.

Now in reflection as I sit here under the pines and oaks I know that that last walk home was not the end but the start.  A new start to a new adventure.  Kali, Holly, Kloe, and I.  There are not three other mammals I’d rather be on this journey with.

Thanks to the Creek Trail.  Thanks to the Duck Pond.  But mostly, thanks Kali for the opportunity to be on this journey with you.

We paused to reflect on the past two years and then moved onto the next phase of Golden Kali’s New Life In The Mountains

 

 

 

 

FORE!

The nine hole golf course that runs along our creek trail has temporarily shut down operations.  The course hasn’t been in good shape in forever but it’s always been a good place for kids, seniors, and beginners of all ages to play golf in a casual atmosphere without worry of being too slow or not very good.  The course may re-open but for now it is closed down.

Kali and I thought this was a great opportunity to change up our routine and go off course and walk the fairways that parallel the creek trail.

Kali has watched the golfers over the months as we walk along the trail and apparently she has had a greater interest in the game than I was aware of.    As we walked onto the fourth hole and passed by the tee box Kali stopped and looked at the yardage sign.  She then magically pulled out a driver from thin air.  Poof!  She sized up the yardage and decided even though she was a lady she could handle the extra 10 yards from the men’s tees and casually walked towards the tee box.

I guess I'll be hitting from the red teas. After all I am a lady...

“I want to be just like dad and hit from the white tees”

Kali is a rule follower  So once she spotted the closed sign she began having second thoughts.

Aware now that I was in a magical world where dogs play golf I convinced Kali it would be ok to play the hole and that we wouldn’t get in trouble.  After all, who would think that a dog would be playing golf.  That’s ridiculous!  Anyway, this was more like fetch with graphite sticks…

“I’m a rule follower and maybe we shouldn’t do this dad”

Kali stepped into the tee box gazing down the fairway.  A  thought bubble appeared over her head:  “Grip it and rip it!”.  She hits a monster drive about 240 yards down the center of the fairway.  Her ball (a “pink lady”) comes to a stop about a hundred feet from the green

We walk the 240 yards to Kali’s ball and since we have the course to ourselves she decides to take a break.  She lies down to savor the shot and she’s now getting visions of grandeur.  Thought bubble, “a chip and putt and down in three for birdie”!

This game is easy!

This game is easy!

As I know all too well after a great shot if one gets too cocky the golf Gods have a way of knocking you down and reminding you that you’re mortal.  Golf is a humbling game indeed.  Kali stands up, approaches her ball and asks me for her pitching wedge.  I realize that an entire set of clubs is now hanging of my shoulder and I’m wearing white overalls.  Great!  I am now Kali’s daddy-caddy…  I hand her the wedge and as Kali addresses the ball another thought bubble appears over her head:  “Drop it in from 100 yards for Eagle?  No, don’t get greedy.  Just get it close for the gimme putt and walk off with the Bird”.  Kali swings and shanks her ball into the green side bunker.  She looks at me with frustration.  The golf Gods snicker.  Kali walks to the bunker and shouts out at me orders me, “Sand wedge”…

It turns out, like me, Kali is not very good at getting out of the sand.  She takes a hack and the ball shoots straight into the side of the bunker.  It’s totally plugged.  Uh-oh.  Kali growls at the sand and glares at me.  Thought bubble:  “Don’t say a word”.  If I didn’t know better I would have thought I heard a few curse words under those growls.  But Kali wouldn’t do that.  On the other hand golf has a way of bringing out the worst in casual players like Kali and I…

Dad, I don't find any humor in your comment 'Just another day at the beach'.

Dad, I don’t find any humor in your comment ‘Just another day at the beach’.

Kali takes another hack at the ball and it (amazingly) shoots straight up in the air landing on the green with back spin and rolls towards the hole resting about 6 feet from the cup.  She’s laying four with a very makeable six foot uphill putt.  I think to myself that if this was my first round of golf I’d be very happy with a bogie on this par 4.

6 foot uphill with a slight break to the left. I've got this.

Finally on the green.  OK, 6 foot uphill with a slight break to the left. I’ve got this.

Kali:  “Putter pleeeeeassse”.  Thought bubble over my head:  “I’m never caddying for her again”.

Kali lines up her putt as the gallery of birds and squirrels watch in anticipation.  She addresses the ball, takes a short back stroke and strikes the ball.  It rolls gently up the slight uphill and just like she read it the ball breaks ever so slightly to the left.  Rolling, rolling, and stopping just 6 inches short of the cup.  Kali taps in for double bogie, takes the Pink Lady out of the cup and throws it at the geese assembled near the next tee box.  Poor form.  And she didn’t even yell “fore”…

So goes the first, and probably last, one hole round of golf for my Golden Kali.  Like so many rounds I’ve played it started out great and somewhere along the way went bad.

Kali quickly shook off the bad “round” of golf.  I mean literally shook off all the sand that was in her coat from the two hacks out of the bunker.  We continued along our walk both knowing that being together on a beautiful day like today was par for the course.  And par for our course is just fine for us.

Another beautiful day in a Golden Paradise.

Another beautiful day in a Golden Paradise.

Where’s Kali?

What a glorious morning along the creek trail it was!  I think it must be “that time of year” when I know colder and (hopefully) wetter weather is just around the corner.  The creek and duck pond seemed more beautiful than ever during our walk this morning.  It won’t be long before the shorts, golf shirts, and flip flops are replaced by jeans, hiking boots, and a wool jacket.  December through February can get mighty cold (well cold for us CA wimps) dipping down in my area to the mid twenties in the morning.  But for now it is warm, sunny, and still flip flop weather even at 7:00 in the morning.

This morning Kali guided me through an area of the pond that is surrounded by low dry golden foliage (because it was dead due to the drought).  None the less I found it strikingly beautiful with colors that closely matched Kali’s fur.  Almost like camouflage for her.

So, patient and as always a very willing subject, Kali sat amongst the dry straw-like weeds and allowed me to take a few photos.  It was a great morning and I will miss the sun and warmth as I begin my annual ritual of lamenting winter.

Where's Kali?

Where’s Kali?

Fixated on ducks or just being patient?

Fixated on ducks or just being patient?

Good girl!

Good girl!

A glorious autumn morning.

A glorious autumn morning.

Ducks Like Rain!

It’s still too early to expect it.  All we can do is hope it eventually arrives.  If it doesn’t get here soon we are in deep trouble.  Especially our farmers, our ranchers, and our eco-systems.  Yes, I’m talking about rain – or lack of it – out here in “droughtville”.

“They” say El-Nino is coming.  I hope whomever they are know what they’re talking about!  I’ve never been a fan of rain but lately I find myself praying for it!  Many of my neighbors are replacing lawns with drought resistant plants, rocks, stones, and cement.  Yuck!  Suburbia is all about green lawns, lush parks, and strip malls.  Ok scratch the strip malls;  we could definitely do without any, or at least with less, strip malls. But I’m holding out one more year and, at least for now, the lawns are staying.  I’m giving the grass enough water to keep them alive but not so much as to exceed our mandatory reduction percentages.  My five minute showers in the morning have been pared down to two minutes and I’ve allocated that water to my lawn.  Well at least that’s my rationalization…

Meanwhile, we did get some rain this past week.  It wasn’t much but it was rain.  A steady drizzle.  Precipitation.  Whatever – we’ll take it.  Even with that little sprinkling the yards around the neighborhood seemed to come alive.  More importantly it surely helped the firefighters around the state battling a number of record setting wildfires.  The drought resistant plants could give a hoot but the rocks and stones sure looked pretty when they were wet!

Even our creek and pond seemed to come alive.  The water levels with even this little bit of rain seemed to rise a couple of feet.  This morning along our walk the duck’s seemed happier.  Seriously.  They were swimming and preening with newfound gusto.

There was a male in the middle of the pond quacking loudly and proudly as if to say, “Ducks like rain!”.

The duck caught Kali’s attention for several seconds and I believe I saw her smile as if to say, “Hey feathered friend – I’m happy for you”.  I smiled too.  Seeing the pond and creek looking a little bit like it’s old self made me happy.  And for a few seconds on this glorious sunny and warm morning time stopped and it was just me, Kali, and mother nature enjoying a moment.

It's nice to see the water levels higher - at least for a few days. Last week this area was totally dry with just cracked mud.

It’s nice to see the water levels higher – at least for a few days. Last week this area was totally dry with just cracked mud.

Even this stoic Blue Heron seemed happy as he surveyed the pond.

Even this stoic Blue Heron seemed happy as he surveyed the pond.

I guess Kali and I got a little too close for Mr. Heron’s comfort and he flew off to the other side of the creek.  Have a great day BH, enjoy the water and sun.

If you’ve made it this far down the page and post congratulations!  Your reward is the full lyrics of “Ducks Like Rain”.

DUCKS LIKE RAIN by Franciscus Henri

Quack quack quack quack quack
Quack quack quack quack quack
Quack quack quack quack quack
Quack! Quack! Quack!

Ducks like rain! Ducks like rain!
Ducks like splishing splashing in the rain.
Ducks like rain! Ducks like rain!
Ducks llike the rainy weather,
Water running off their feathers,
Ducks like splishing splashing in the rain.

Quack quack quack quack quack…

Ducks like rain! Ducks like rain!
Ducks like to widdle waddle in the rain.
Ducks like rain! Ducks like rain!
Ducks like to widdle waddle,
Water knee-deep in the puddle,
Ducks like to widdle waddle in the rain.

Quack quack quack quack quack…

Weekend reflections along the creek trail

Kali and I had some beautiful mornings along our creek trail this week and also one very special sunset.  As much as I hate to see Summer end the beginning of Fall in Northern California is a beautiful time.

As we head out of the hot and into the warm Kali thought it would nice to let the pictures be worth a thousand blessings…

Rise and shine for Kali and Dad. "Let's go"!

Rise and shine for Kali and Dad. “Let’s go”!

Sun just creeping up over the trail head.

Sun just creeping up over the trail head.

Stopping to "reflect" at the Duck Pond; our turn around point.

Stopping to “reflect” at the Duck Pond; our turn around point.

Never too early for Kali to pose at our favorite spot.

Never too early for Kali to pose at our favorite spot.

And again...

And again…

Heading home

Heading home

And later that night- what a show the sun and clouds put on for us!

And later that night

Blazing New Trails

The neighborhood was all a twitter as the engines rolled in with sirens and hoses.  One after another the engines kept coming and more and more firemen hit the trail.

You know you live in a quiet neighborhood when the biggest event in recent history is five or six fire vehicles pulling onto your street to douse a small fire.  But, it could have been a much larger fire – lord knows the elements are prime for a huge blaze – but our guys took care of business quickly and efficiently.

The trail head to Kali’s creek trail begins at the end of the block.  After over a year of walking the trail almost daily Kali knows the trail like the back of her paw.  Pretty much the same sights, same smells, and same neighbors out for strolls with the dogs, a bike ride or a jog.  Hit the trail head, stop for a quick poop (Kali not me), wrap around the golf course, bark -if antagonized – at a couple yap-yap dogs through a fence in a trailside home, on to the duck pond, a quick jaunt past the dog park (past being the operative term here since Kali is not ready to go in yet), and then we head home.  It’s our routine.

So it was of some personal interest to Kali and I when we heard the fire engines and saw that they were converging at the trail head from both sides of the creek to address a fire that had started in the brush.  One of the fire fighters told me that the fire had been started by someone throwing a flare into the creek.  I hate to assume it was kids who did it but boredom in suburbia after two months of summer vacation is the likely circumstance for someone to “see what would happen”.

We’re in the middle of a mini-heat wave and the temps were in the low 100’s yesterday and will remain so for another couple of days.  So on top of an already drought-ridden landscape the high temps and moderate winds make anywhere in this area prime for a major fire with little effort on mother nature’s part of any one stupid enough to throw a burning cigarette – of flare – into a wooded area. Fortunately, the fire was put out quickly with minimal impact to the creek and no harm to any of the surrounding homes.

I’ve always been fascinated with fire fighting.  When I was five years old I told my mother I wanted to be a fireman.  To this day I wish I had gone into that line of work and don’t have a reason or excuse for why I didn’t.  When I see news stories about fires this time of year, homes in danger, and acres and acres ablaze I feel compelled to drive to the area to see what I can do to help.  “Give me a shovel. Here, I’ll help move that hose….. “.  “Stay out of the way old man.  If you wanted to be a fire fighter you should have done so years ago when you were in your prime!”.  Sigh….  “OK, I’ll just watch from here but let me know if you need anything.  I’ve got a real cool dog – you want to meet her later? Maybe she could ride in the engine next to you.”

The Trail Head

Gaining access at the trail head

Crews Converging

“Let’s roll boys! We’ve got a fire to put out before the game comes on back at the fire house….”

I guess this is one way to get the water level back up in the creek....

I guess this is one way to get the water level back up in the creek….

All is well again at the creek

All is well again at the creek

I have few if any regrets in my life but not being a fire fighter may be one.  And if I had been I guess I’d be adopting Dalmatians instead of Golden Retrievers, right?  NOT!  I can guarantee you that If I was a fire fighter my Golden Kali would be riding and smiling along side of me in Engine No. 7 and helping to keep her community safe.

Our Duck Pond

It’s not the greatest pond in the world.  It’s not even the greatest pond in town.  But it is our adopted pond; our “Duck Pond”.  It’s come to represent the special time Kali and I have, usually early in the morning, when the air is cool and the ducks are still sleeping in their nests (until Kali arrives and gives a woof or two).  It reminds me of how fortunate we are to live in an area that is safe, prosperous, and pretty.   But mostly it reminds of how often I didn’t stop to appreciate our neighborhood creek and ponds until Kali got here last year and we began our morning ritual of walking and “smelling the roses”.

So this morning I took this “pano” shot shot with my iPhone that  provides a 180 degree perspective (what did we do before our phones only made calls?!?) that captures the usual turn-around point of our early morning treks, our walks, and our bonding time; me and my Golden Kali.

Kali's Duck Pond

Kali’s Duck Pond